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EA Delays 'Tiberium', 'Battlefield Heroes' But PC Sports Games Back Next Year

by Rainier on July 29, 2008 @ 4:05 p.m. PDT

EA's Q1 2009 financial result shows that the company doubled its revenue ($804 million compared to last year's $395 million), mainly driven by Battlefield: Bad Company and UEFA EURO 2008, and Rock Band, while Boom Blox so far sold 450k copies. The investors conference call had less positive news as EA has decided to delay its free-to-play online FPS Battlefield Heroes in order to give the devs more time to implement community features, as well as Tiberium, its FPS set in the C&C universe, from its scheduled late 2008 until fiscal 2009, which runs anywhere from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. However sports fans will be delighted to know that next year Madden, NBA Live and NCAA Football are coming back to the PC with expanded online features.

Net revenue for the first quarter was $804 million, up $409 million as compared with $395 million for the prior year. During the quarter, EA had a net benefit of $231 million year-over-year related to the recognition of deferred net revenue for certain online enabled packaged goods games.

Non-GAAP net revenue was $609 million, up 41 percent as compared with $431 million for the prior year. Sales were driven by the launches of Battlefield: Bad Company and UEFA EURO 2008, as well as the continued strength of Rock Band.

Net loss for the quarter was $95 million as compared with net loss of $132 million for the prior year. Diluted loss per share was $0.30 as compared with diluted loss per share of $0.42 for the prior year.

Non-GAAP net loss was $135 million as compared with a non-GAAP net loss of $69 million a year ago. Non-GAAP diluted loss per share was $0.42 as compared with a non-GAAP diluted loss per share of $0.22 for the prior year.

Trailing-twelve-month operating cash flow was $239 million as compared with $243 million a year ago. The Company ended the year with cash and short-term investments of $1.947 billion.

“We are now seeing the early returns of the change agenda we started last year,” said John Riccitiello, Chief Executive Officer. “Innovation and quality are rising, our games are more accessible and fun, and we have more new titles than at any time in our history. From SPORE on the PC to Dead Space on the PLAYSTATION 3 and Xbox 360 to MySims on the Wii and Nintendo DS to Scrabble on the iPhone and Facebook, this is the best title portfolio in the company’s history.”

Highlights (comparisons are to the quarter ended June 30, 2007)

  • Battlefield: Bad Company, Mass Effect for the PC, SPORE Creature Creator and the recently launched NCAA┬« Football 09 debuted with strong quality ratings from critics.
  • The SPORE Creature Creator is in the hands of 2.5 million users. Over two million creatures have been uploaded into Sporepedia in just six weeks.
  • EA is the number one publisher in North America, with 17 percent segment share and number two in Europe with 14 percent segment share calendar year-to-date.
  • EA Mobile is the world’s leading publisher of games for phones – with revenue of $44 million – up 33 percent year-over-year.
  • EA Partners signed a co-publishing deal with id Software to bring RAGE to consumers around the world.
  • EA acquired Hands-On-Mobile Korea, a leading Korean mobile developer and publisher.
  • EA purchased ThreeSF, developers of an online social network for gamers.
  • Critics gave EA titles high marks for quality and innovation at the recent E3 industry summit in Los Angeles. Highlights included SPORE, Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space, Dragon Age: Origins and Left 4 Dead from Valve.

Business Outlook

The following forward-looking statements, as well as those made above, reflect expectations as of July 29, 2008. Results may be materially different and are affected by many factors, including: development delays on EA’s products; competition in the industry; changes in anticipated costs, expected savings and impact on EA’s operations of the Company’s reorganization plan; consumer demand for console hardware and the ability of the console manufacturers to produce an adequate supply of consoles to meet that demand; consumer demand for games for legacy consoles, particularly the PlayStation┬«2; the financial impact of potential future acquisitions by EA, including the potential acquisition of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.; the popular appeal of EA’s products; changes in foreign exchange rates; the health of the economy in the U.S. and abroad; EA’s effective tax rate; and other factors detailed in this release and in EA’s annual and quarterly SEC filings.

Fiscal Year Expectations – Ending March 31, 2009

  • GAAP net revenue is expected to be between $4.9 and $5.15 billion as compared with $3.665 billion in the prior year – up 34 to 41 percent.
  • Non-GAAP net revenue is expected to be between $5.0 and $5.3 billion as compared with $4.020 billion in the prior year – up 24 to 32 percent.
  • GAAP diluted earnings per share are expected to be between $0.21 and $0.48 as compared with a diluted loss per share of $1.45 in the prior year.
  • Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share are expected to be between $1.30 and $1.70 as compared with $1.06 in the prior year.
  • Expected non-GAAP net income excludes the following pre-tax items from expected GAAP net income:
    • $100 to $150 million for the impact of the change in deferred net revenue (packaged goods and digital content),
    • $230 million of estimated stock-based compensation,
    • $70 million of amortization of intangible assets,
    • $40 million of restructuring charges,
    • $6 million of losses on strategic investments,
    • $2 million in acquired-in process technology,
  • Non-GAAP tax expense is expected to be $85 to $95 million higher than GAAP tax expense.

In fiscal 2009, the Company began using a fixed, long-term projected tax rate of 28 percent internally to evaluate its operating performance, to forecast, plan and analyze future periods, and to assess the performance of its management team. Accordingly, the Company has applied the same 28 percent tax rate to its fiscal 2009 non-GAAP financial results.

Conference Call

Electronic Arts will host a conference call today at 2:00 pm PT (5:00 pm ET) to review its results for the fiscal first quarter ended June 30, 2008 and its outlook for the future. During the course of the call, Electronic Arts may also disclose material developments affecting its business and/or financial performance. Listeners may access the conference call live through the following dial-in number: (877) 723-9519, access code 220497, or via webcast: http://investor.ea.com.

A dial-in replay of the conference call will be provided until August 5, 2008 at (719) 457-0820, access code 220497. A webcast archive of the conference call will be available for one year at http://investor.ea.com.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

To supplement the Company’s unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with GAAP, Electronic Arts uses certain non-GAAP measures of financial performance. The presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures is not intended to be considered in isolation from, as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP, and may be different from non-GAAP financial measures used by other companies. In addition, these non-GAAP measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all of the amounts associated with the Company’s results of operations as determined in accordance with GAAP. The non-GAAP financial measures used by Electronic Arts include: non-GAAP net revenue, non-GAAP gross profit, non-GAAP operating income (loss), non-GAAP net income (loss) and historical and estimated non-GAAP diluted earnings (loss) per share. These non-GAAP financial measures exclude the following items, as applicable in a given reporting period, from the Company’s unaudited condensed consolidated statements of operations:

  • Amortization of intangibles
  • Stock-based compensation
  • Acquired in-process technology
  • Restructuring charges
  • Certain litigation expenses
  • Losses on strategic investments
  • Change in deferred net revenue (packaged goods and digital content)

Through the end of fiscal 2008, Electronic Arts made certain income tax adjustments to its non-GAAP financial measures to reflect the income tax effects of each of the items it excluded from its pre-tax non-GAAP financial measures, as well as certain discrete one-time income tax adjustments. This approach was consistent with how the Company evaluated operating performance, planned, forecasted and analyzed future periods, and assessed the performance of its management team.

In fiscal 2009, the Company began using a fixed, long-term projected tax rate of 28 percent internally to evaluate its operating performance, to forecast, plan and analyze future periods, and to assess the performance of its management team. Accordingly, the Company has applied the same 28 percent tax rate to its fiscal 2009 non-GAAP financial results.

Electronic Arts may consider whether other significant non-recurring items that arise in the future should also be excluded in calculating the non-GAAP financial measures it uses.

Electronic Arts believes that these non-GAAP financial measures, when taken together with the corresponding GAAP financial measures, provide meaningful supplemental information regarding the Company’s performance by excluding certain items that may not be indicative of the Company’s core business, operating results or future outlook. Electronic Arts’ management uses, and believes that investors benefit from referring to, these non-GAAP financial measures in assessing the Company’s operating results both as a consolidated entity and at the business unit level, as well as when planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods. These non-GAAP financial measures also facilitate comparisons of the Company’s performance to prior periods.

In addition to the reasons stated above, which are generally applicable to each of the items Electronic Arts excludes from its non-GAAP financial measures, the Company believes it is appropriate to exclude certain items for the following reasons:

Amortization of Intangibles. When analyzing the operating performance of an acquired entity, Electronic Arts’ management focuses on the total return provided by the investment (i.e., operating profit generated from the acquired entity as compared to the purchase price paid) without taking into consideration any allocations made for accounting purposes. Because the purchase price for an acquisition necessarily reflects the accounting value assigned to intangible assets (including acquired in-process technology and goodwill), when analyzing the operating performance of an acquisition in subsequent periods, the Company’s management excludes the GAAP impact of acquired intangible assets to its financial results. Electronic Arts believes that such an approach is useful in understanding the long-term return provided by an acquisition and that investors benefit from a supplemental non-GAAP financial measure that excludes the accounting expense associated with acquired intangible assets.

In addition, in accordance with GAAP, Electronic Arts generally recognizes expenses for internally-developed intangible assets as they are incurred, notwithstanding the potential future benefit such assets may provide. Unlike internally-developed intangible assets, however, and also in accordance with GAAP, the Company generally capitalizes the cost of acquired intangible assets and recognizes that cost as an expense over the useful lives of the assets acquired (other than goodwill, which is not amortized, and acquired in-process technology, which is expensed immediately, as required under GAAP). As a result of their GAAP treatment, there is an inherent lack of comparability between the financial performance of internally-developed intangible assets and acquired intangible assets. Accordingly, Electronic Arts believes it is useful to provide, as a supplement to its GAAP operating results, a non-GAAP financial measure that excludes the amortization of acquired intangibles.

Stock-Based Compensation. Electronic Arts adopted SFAS 123(R), “Share-Based Payment” beginning in its fiscal year 2007. When evaluating the performance of its individual business units, the Company does not consider stock-based compensation charges. Likewise, the Company’s management teams exclude stock-based compensation expense from their short and long-term operating plans. In contrast, the Company’s management teams are held accountable for cash-based compensation and such amounts are included in their operating plans. Further, when considering the impact of equity award grants, Electronic Arts places a greater emphasis on overall shareholder dilution rather than the accounting charges associated with such grants.

Video game platforms have historically had a life cycle of four to six years, which causes the video game software market to be cyclical. The Company’s management analyzes its business and operating performance in the context of these business cycles, comparing Electronic Arts’ performance at similar stages of different cycles. For comparability purposes, Electronic Arts believes it is useful to provide a non-GAAP financial measure that excludes stock-based compensation in order to better understand the long-term performance of its core business.

Restructuring Charges. Although Electronic Arts has engaged in various restructuring activities in the past, each has been a discrete, extraordinary event based on a unique set of business objectives. Each of these restructurings has been unlike its predecessors in terms of its operational implementation, business impact and scope. The Company does not engage in restructuring activities on a regular basis or in the ordinary course of business. As such, the Company believes it is appropriate to exclude restructuring charges from its non-GAAP financial measures.

Change in Deferred Net Revenue (Packaged Goods and Digital Content). Beginning in fiscal 2008, Electronic Arts was no longer able to objectively determine the fair value of the online service included in certain of its packaged goods games and online content. As a result, the Company began recognizing the revenue from the sale of these games and content over the estimated online service period. Although Electronic Arts defers the recognition of a significant portion of its net revenue as a result of this change, there has been no adverse impact to its operating cash flow. Internally, Electronic Arts’ management excludes the impact of the change in deferred net revenue related to packaged goods games and digital content in its non-GAAP financial measures when evaluating the Company’s operating performance, when planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods, and when assessing the performance of its management team. The Company believes that excluding the impact of the change in deferred net revenue from its operating results is important to facilitate comparisons to prior periods during which the Company was able to objectively determine the fair value of the online service and not delay the recognition of significant amounts of net revenue related to online-enabled packaged goods.

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